How to Add a Treat Pouch to Your Costume {For Horseback Riders}

I have been performing with horses for many years. I use treats as positive reinforcement in my training. Over the years I have tried to come up with clever ways to use treats during my performances without the treat bag looking frumpy or drawing attention. I have decorated old fanny packs and handbags that I have found at thrift stores, and used treat pouches designed for horseback riders. Most of them worked pretty well but they would either slide around on a belt, be too wide at the top and the treats would fall out, or they just felt bulky and in my way. This is my solution to the treat dilemma!

What You Need: 

  • A Canvas Bag (I bought mine at Hobby Lobby)
  • Your Corset (or you could use a wide belt)
  • Decorative Trim/Tassels
  • Scissors
  • Hot Glue Gun & Extra Glue
  • Decorative Buttons or Pendants (optional)
  • Fabric Spray/Glitter (optional)

Watch Video for Step-by-Step Instructions:

Do you love being creative with your horse?

Download the First Chapter of my new Fantasy Photo Shoots E-Book today!
Or you can go ahead and purchase the E-Book to get started right away.

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How to Decorate Your Horse's Bridle {Ribbon Browband Tutorial}

When I am performing I get asked a lot of questions...not just about riding, but more often the questions are related to my costumes and my horse's tack. I started performing when I was a teenager in the Isaac Royal Equestrian Theater. We put on a two hour long performance jam-packed with quadrilles, single routines, plays on horseback, and dancers. My fellow riders and I were in many routines so we learned how to change costumes QUICKLY and doll up our tack on a budget. 

Purchasing a fancy new bridle for a one-time photo shoot, performance, parade, or wedding can be expensive. This DIY project will help add some color, bling, and accessories to your horse's bridle. You can use this same browband technique on the noseband for a more dramatic effect. 

What You Need: 

  • Your Bridle (You will not be gluing directly to the bridle so it won't ruin it.)
  • Satin Ribbon 
  • Decorative Trim
  • Scissors
  • Hot Glue Gun & Extra Glue
  • Decorative Buttons or Pendants (optional)
  • Wire Flowers (optional)
  • Fake Flowers (optional)

Watch Video for Step-by-Step Instructions:

Do you love being creative with your horse?

Download the First Chapter of my new Fantasy Photo Shoots E-Book today!
Or you can go ahead and purchase the E-Book to get started right away.

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Fantasy Photo Shoot Contest Winner: To The Masquerade Ball & The Huntress

At the end of 2016, I offered my new Fantasy Photo Shoots eBook for Pre-Order. Those who pre-ordered the eBook were automatically entered into a drawing to win a Fantasy Photo Shoot with my Friesian gelding, Douwe!

For the Fantasy Photo Shoots, I am able to provide Douwe as the mainstay of the photographs, adding to the emotion and the depth of the photo. Douwe is also incredible at providing confidence (and the camera loves him!).

The winner of the Fantasy Photo Shoot Contest drawing was Karen Mancuso, who wanted to share the experience with her daughter, and so "To the Masquerade Ball" and "The Huntress" were born. 

Karen's 'Masquerade':

I love it when costumes magically come together! Karen walked into the dressing room with this beautiful, royal purple cape, and from there I was able to draw from my own costume closet and complete the look! 

Photo taken by Taylor Burdin

Photo taken by Taylor Burdin

I just enjoyed the entire experience, honestly; it was playful and fun.
— Karen Monusco

As an artist, it is always fun to use people as canvases! For Karen, I chose an ethereal look, with soft curls framing her face, and added a touch of smoky purple to her eyes. She is also wearing Ardell Self-Adhesive Lashes.

Behind-the-scenes tidbit: I found Karen's forehead jewel at Hobby Lobby for less than $5!


Ashley's 'Huntress':

Ashley's 'Huntress' costume was fun to create and she came onto the set looking lovely and fierce! The layers added to the texture and depth of the outfit and the drab forest colors added authenticity to the idea of her hunting in the woods.

Photo taken by Taylor Burdin.

Photo taken by Taylor Burdin.

Makeup

For Ashley's huntress makeup, we found some photos on Pinterest for inspiration and had fun finger-painting warrior markings on her face. Otherwise, we kept it fairly simple with brown tones for her eyes and a nude lip gloss.

Hair

For Ashley's hair, I used brown cord and weaved it between small braids, tying them together, and completed the look with a braided 'faux-hawk' at the top (which is created with a Dutch-style braid with the edges pulled apart to look fuller).

This fantasy photo shoot was something I never expected, but always secretly wanted.
— Ashley Mancuso
Photo taken by Taylor Burdin. 

Photo taken by Taylor Burdin. 

Tack

From performing with Douwe, I have two sets of tack, and we put them to good use! Both sets were designed and created by Lisa Oberman, of El Sueno Espanol, aka "the Tack Temptress".

Location

For the past several years, I have spent my winters in Florida at Southern Oaks Equestrian Center, owned and operated by my close friend, Marsha Hartford Sapp. Marsha's property, hidden along the farm roads of Tallahassee, is beautiful and lush. The large oak trees dripping with Spanish moss and the forested pastures provided stunning backdrops for the fantasy photo shoot.

It has been an unbelievable experience to draw out the visions inside of others and help them create their
own special experience they can look back on and say,

"Wow, dreams really do come true."

About the Photographer(s)

Taylor Burdin is a former student of mine from Isaac Royal. She currently works full time for L.L. Bean Inc., and does photography as a hobby. She uses vintage Canon and Nikon lenses on an Olympus EPL1 body. The fantasy photos were shot with an older Canon 50 mm f1.4 film camera lens, which gives the photos a softer look and a dream-like quality.

Karen is also a hobby photographer. Karen shoots with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III digital camera.


Q & A With Karen:

Q: When was the first moment that horses came into your life?

Karen: “My family had a ranch in Wyoming. We moved there full-time when I was 10. We had four horses at the time, and I would ride them every day with the cowboy that worked for us. We would fix fences, check watering holes, move the cows…I felt like I had died and gone to Heaven.”


Q: What inspired you to purchase Sandra's Fantasy Photo Shoots eBook?

Karen: I was very excited to pre-order Sandy's Fantasy Photo Shoots eBook, you see, as I needed ideas for a special shoot for my daughter. I wanted pictures of her with her beloved Retto, but I wanted them to be very special pictures; fun photos, not show photos. I wanted it to have an otherworldly feel.

Q: What made you want to involve your daughter in the photo shoot?

Karen: “I love doing things with Ashley; she always makes everything more fun!”


Q: What most excited you about the idea of the Fantasy Photo Shoot?

Karen: “Undoubtedly being able to sit on Douwe! He's magnificent!”


Q: You are a photographer yourself, what was it like to be on the other side of the camera?

Karen: “Normally I'm very uncomfortable in front of the camera, but this time I didn't even notice it; I was having too much fun with Sandra and Douwe.”

Q: What was it like to work with Sandra and Douwe?

Karen: “I felt like I was in very good hands. I felt completely entertained.”


Q: What were some of the thoughts going through your head as you were getting your hair and makeup done for the shoot?

Karen: “I have never worn make-up, except a little blush at my wedding, so having my hair and make-up done was very entertaining. The eyelashes were kind of scary. I just enjoyed the entire experience, honestly; it was playful and fun.”


Q: What is your advice for people who want to create/participate in a photo shoot, but have something standing in their way?

Karen: “Buy Sandy's book! I'm sure it's going to be full of helpful tips. Wardrobe is actually very important, so plan enough time to have that spot on. I struggled, but Sandra helped pull ‘The Huntress’ together. I'm in that position [creating a wardrobe] right now, actually, because I'm still planning my fantasy [photo] shoot with Ashley and her beloved Warmblood, Retto. Retto will always be her first love. He's super cool and I'm working on a cloak for that shoot. I have everything to put it together, I just need some sewing lessons first…”


Find the RIGHT Photographer for a Fantasy Photo Shoot with your Horse - Download the Resource Guide

It can be challenging to find a photographer that understands horses and also has a creative spirit. I created this resource guide to help you find a creative photographer near you. This guide will be updated regularly, just check back periodically for a fresh download. It includes multiple pages with photographers from the USA, Europe, UK, and Australia. If you are a photographer and would like to be added to the guide please email me at beginthedance@gmail.com. 

The image below is just a screenshot of the guide, please CLICK on it to go to the actual .PDF where you can download it for your own use or click on the links to learn more about the photographers.

Are you dreaming of a Fantasy Photo Shoot?

I have had many people ask questions about the photo shoots I have done with my horses.
I decided to pull together all my experience and resources to share with my friends and fans.
I am still in the writing process but you can download the first chapter for free to get started.

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Join the Facebook Group!

Steampunk Inspired Photo Shoot with a Train!

I am having such a great time with my new Fantasy Photo Shoots Facebook group. People are sharing some amazing photos and ideas with each other. I will be featuring some of these creative equestrians on my blog to help inspire you with ideas. Featured in this blog post is Heather Hayes. Heather and I met when I lived briefly in Ashford, CT. I asked her to share the behind-the-scenes details of her recent steampunk photo shoot. The rest of the article is in Heather's words...

About the Rider

I grew up the daughter of horse-loving parents! My mom grew up around horses and my dad was a trainer for over 50 years. I was on a horse before I could walk and never looked back!  My background includes reining, hunters, jumper, eventing, dressage and driving. I hold a BS in Equine Science and am certified for equine massage and myofascial work. 

About the Horse

Cinta de Seda (Sadie for short!) is a 2003 Azteca mare that I found totally by accident in 2009. She's absolutely brilliant, has a huge personality and loves to work every single day! Sadie has top 5 national placings in a variety of disciplines and has shown through Third Level dressage and Level 3 in Working Equitation. 

Heather Hayes with her Azteca mare Sadie.

About the Photographer

Melissa Ferrucci and I met thru the horse show world and have been friends ever since. She does photography as a hobby on the side and has a fantastic eye. Click here to visit her Facebook page.

Inspiration

I am NOT a fu-fu princess girl! My background outside of horses includes work for DOD (Department of Defense) and extensive exposure to firearms. I've been wanting to do a shoot that combines two of my passions and am glad to have finally had the chance! Additionally, I absolutely love the grit and feel of the TV series, Hell on Wheels and wanted to capture some of that vibe. I think we pulled it off pretty well!

Heather Hayes riding her Azteca mare Sadie. Photo taken by Melissa Ferrucci.

Costume

The hat and accessories are homemade, antique firearms are from our collection and the corset and skirt are from Damsel in this Dress. 

Hair & Makeup

I am the first to admit that I am incapable of hair and makeup. It's a good day if I wear lipgloss.  Hair and makeup were done by Jillian Labrie, click here to visit her Jillian & Company Facebook page. I can't say enough how great she is to work with and her background in the horse world made working with her on something like this super easy. 

Heather Hayes modeling with hair and makeup done by Jillian Laurie. Photo take by Melissa Ferrucci.

Tack

The bridle is just a training bridle and the saddle was my mom's wedding gift to my dad. After helping them both through serious health issues the last two years...well...I couldn't have used another saddle for this. That simple. 

Location

We were allowed to shoot at the Antique Machinery Museum in Kent CT. This is a fantastic place and open to the public for the cost of a small donation. Wonderful people, loads of history. 

Back to Sandra

I hope you enjoyed this blog post! To learn more about Fantasy Photo Shoots with your horse, check out my E-Book series!

"Red Riding Hood" Fantasy Photo Shoot - Costume Ideas & Resources

Putting together a creative photo shoot with your horse can be a lot of fun but it also takes time and imagination! This particular idea took me two years to complete from start to finish. By the time my custom cape was ready the snow was all gone so I had to wait another year. I had to keep a close eye on the weather and wait for the perfect conditions, fresh snow on the ground, light snowfall in the air, no wind and decent temps (it was about 25 degrees the day of the shoot). It was worth the wait! 

I was inspired to try this shoot while browsing through Pinterest. My favorite photos were taken in the winter and I knew the dramatic color contrast would look great on Douwe, my Friesian. I have saved over 6,000 images to my Costume Inspiration board on Pinterest. If you are looking for costume ideas definitely check out my board! Click here.


Costume

The Red Cape: The most important costume piece! I searched around on Etsy to see what was on sale but my only choice was to have one custom made. I wanted it to have extra length so that when I rode the horse it almost hit the ground. Luckily, I know an amazing seamstress who lives locally in Dover-Foxcroft, ME. Her name is Rhonda Kirkpatrick. You can contact her at: rhonda@designersfortheatre.com. She found a great pattern for a monk's hood and cape that draped nicely over the shoulders. We had a hard time finding fabric because the red wool isn't readily available certain times of the year. I eventually found EXACTLY what I needed at Marden's, they had one roll left of this beautiful red wool AND matching cotton fabric for a liner! I was so excited! Lucky for me it was a fraction of the cost...I can't remember what I paid for it but I know that it was more than 50% off. Click on an image below to open a slideshow. The wool is gorgeous but keep in mind that it is quite HEAVY. It isn't always easy to manage but stays draped over the horse very well in motion.

A Beautiful Clasp: I wanted a beautiful, gold clasp at the neck to match the accents on my corset. After searching through JoAnn Fabric, ACMoore and online I was unable to find an actual clasp that would be large enough and strong enough to hold up that amount of fabric. What I did find were these plastic accessories in the clearance section at Hobby Lobby that were only .99 cents each! I used a gold Sharpie marker to doll them up and Rhonda sewed them onto the cape to look like a clasp! Voila! 

Black Leather Gloves: On a whim I stopped at Goodwill and found the most perfect pair of gloves!!! Soft black leather, insulated, just the right size, and long!!! They were perfect!

corset sandy.jpg

Steampunk Corset: I already owned this corset and I knew that I would use it for this shoot. I originally bought this online at www.corset-story.com to wear in the indie film Essential Realism. They have an amazing selection of corsets and I currently own three from their website. This corset is steel boned, making it harder to get into, you will need someone to lace you up! The less expensive plastic boning is more flexible but may not have the look you want.

White Blouse: My mother-in-law Bethanne is always finding unique costume pieces at Goodwill and gave me this beautiful blouse. It has a ruffled neckline, perfect to wear with the corset. I am always on the lookout for tops that have a unique neckline to wear with corsets.

Black Skirt: I bought this gypsy skirt online at www.moondancebellydance.com. I have 4 of these 25 yard skirts and use them all the time. They come in one size with a drawstring so it is very adjustable. You will need a circle skirt to cover your legs and your horse. I did not wear an underskirt in this photo shoot but I should have because I ripped it while I was walking around in the snow, the fabric is pretty gauzy and light. They have a wide variety of colors on their website.

Fur Belt: This piece of fur is actually a shrug that I bought for a previous winter photo shoot. It is meant to sit over your shoulders. It fit perfectly around my hips and added a nice touch! I bought it at JCPenney in their accessory aisle.


Hair & Makeup

I experimented with rag curlers for this shoot because I didn't want to spend hours curling my hair. I cut 1 x 8" strips out of an old tee shirt and used a pencil to help roll them up (I found instructions on Pinterest). Unfortunately the curls fell out slightly because of the snow/dampness. For makeup I did a basic smokey eye and red lipstick.

Click here for a blog post on How to use Rag Curlers: 
http://offbeatbride.com/rag-curls/


Tack

Bridle: I used a custom bitless bridle made for me by Lisa Oberman of El Sueno Espanol. She originally made this for the indie film Essential Realism. I wanted something simple but the accents on the bridle look great for this style of photograph. Click here to visit her Facebook page to see some of her amazing creations!


Photographer

Because this photo shoot was so dependent on the weather I needed someone that could be ready at the last minute. My best friend Lydia Rose Spencer lives at Isaac Royal Farm where we did the photo shoot (her mother owns the facility). She used a Canon 60D camera with a 18-135mm lens.

Please take a moment to visit her website http://lydiarosefineart.com/ and her Lydia Rose Art Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LydiaRoseArt?fref=ts to see her amazing collection of equine art.

Is That a Real Raven? While we were in the process of the shoot both Lydia and I remembered a photo we saw on Pinterest with a girl on a horse and a Falcon in her hand. We tried multiple poses with me holding my hand out, pretending to look at a bird. Lydia did an AMAZING job creating these images and just about everyone thought the raven was real! 

I hope you have enjoyed this blog post! Please share your photos and videos with me so that I can see what you have come up with!

Do you love being creative with your horse?

Download the First Chapter of my new Fantasy Photo Shoots E-Book today!
Or you can go ahead and Purchase the E-Book to get started.

DIY Glitter Hooves, Mane & Tail for Your Horse!

Whenever I perform with my horse the first thing that everyone compliments us on is our use of GLITTER! I particularly love to make Douwe's or Rovandio's hooves gold, silver, or copper, whatever matches our costume. Everyone always asks how I get the glitter to stay on the hooves and on their manes and tails. So, I wanted to share this SUPER EASY secret to getting your own "cheap" version of Twinkle Toes!

Douwe's silver hooves at the 2014 Baroque Horse Show where we performed. Photo taken by Karen Lendvay.

Douwe's silver hooves at the 2014 Baroque Horse Show where we performed. Photo taken by Karen Lendvay.

What You Need:

  • Hoof Polish: I prefer black because it makes the hooves really stand out, but clear will work fine as well.
  • GLITTER: You can get glitter in many colors at any craft store, JoAnn Fabric, ACMoore, Hobby Lobby, and Walmart. You can just get the regular craft glitter. The fine glitter works really well for the mane and coat but I usually just get the large containers of big glitter.
  • Hairspray: Can(s) of Super Hold hairspray- you can buy this at WalMart, Walgreens, etc...
  • Latex Gloves: If you don't want to get the hoof polish on your hands, wear gloves!
  • Block of Wood: To help keep the hoof area clear of shavings or to protect the floor.

How to Apply Glitter to the Hooves:

  1.  Clean the hoof and leg- just brushing it off will do! You don't need to wash the hoof.
  2. Place the hoof on a piece of wood if you would like to keep shavings/dirt away from the drying polish.
  3. Apply the hoof polish to one hoof at a time.
  4. Sprinkle on the glitter immediately after you apply the hoof polish.
  5. Do one hoof at a time and wait until it dries, it doesn't take too long, maybe 10 minutes before you are ready to ride.
Elisha Harvey (putting on polish) is working with Hannah French (glitter girl) to make sure the glitter is added immediately for the best "stickage"!

Elisha Harvey (putting on polish) is working with Hannah French (glitter girl) to make sure the glitter is added immediately for the best "stickage"!

Putting glitter on Douwe's hooves at a show. Not a good idea to do this in your white costume!!

Putting glitter on Douwe's hooves at a show. Not a good idea to do this in your white costume!!

How to Apply Glitter to the Mane/Tail/Coat:

  1.  Groom your horse first! Do not use Show Sheen or the glitter will not stick.
  2. You might need someone to hold your horse while you spray, some horses don't like the hairspray, be careful!
  3. With the glitter in one hand and the hairspray in the other, spray a section of the horse and then sprinkle on the glitter.
  4. I usually spray, sprinkle, and then spray again over the glitter to get it to stay.
  5. The horse may shake his head after you are done, that is why we put on a lot of glitter! We usually keep in mind that half of it will fall off once the horse shakes or the skirts rub it off.
Having way too much fun at the Equine Affaire! Elisha Harvey and Hannah French were my assistants/grooms for the event and they made a great glitter team! Here you can see how much glitter they put in Douwe's mane!

Having way too much fun at the Equine Affaire! Elisha Harvey and Hannah French were my assistants/grooms for the event and they made a great glitter team! Here you can see how much glitter they put in Douwe's mane!

Elisha Harvey is one of Douwe's glitter grooms! Here she is adding more hairspray to his tail to help hold the glitter in....you can also see that she put glitter on his feathers!

Elisha Harvey is one of Douwe's glitter grooms! Here she is adding more hairspray to his tail to help hold the glitter in....you can also see that she put glitter on his feathers!

And you are done!

I would love to see photos of your horse all glittered up, make sure to post them on my Facebook page at Begin the Dance with Sandra Beaulieu or email them to me at beginthedance@gmail.com. Have fun!

Here you can see Douwe's hooves, feathers, mane, neck and tail all glittered and he is ready to perform! We are on our way to the Youth Pavilion at Equine Affaire to demonstrate Douwe's tricks in the Friesian breed demo.

Here you can see Douwe's hooves, feathers, mane, neck and tail all glittered and he is ready to perform! We are on our way to the Youth Pavilion at Equine Affaire to demonstrate Douwe's tricks in the Friesian breed demo.

Learn More about Fantasy Photo Shoots with your Horse

Fantasy Winter Photo Shoot with Friesian and Warmblood Horses

My friend, Lydia Rose Spencer, and I brainstormed a photo shoot in the snow for the winter of 2013. I spend my winters in Florida and was leaving the week we decided on, so I asked Jesse Schwarcz (www.jschwarczphotography.com) to come back (she had done a shoot with my Frisian gelding, Douwe, and I a few days before). Of course it was extremely WINDY and cold, but we are both tough Mainer girls, so we charged ahead into the shoot anyway! (I put hand-warmers in my gloves, fit a turtleneck under my corset, and wore my thick winter breeches under my skirt.)

Costumes:

We found awesome fur shawls/hoods at JCPenney, as well as jewelry.

I wore a "Snow Queen" inspired outfit: a blue and white corset with a white shirt, white fur, and blue skirt.

Lydia wore a "Red Riding Hood" inspired costume and rode her chestnut Warmblood gelding, Valimar, with a mixture of red/black/and brown costume pieces.

Location:

We started in the indoor riding arena, and Jesse used the doorway to silhouette our figures. I had Douwe rear in the doorway, though he is not strong enough yet to move very high. Douwe also performed Spanish walk going out the doorway (shown above).

We went into a big field and took trotting and cantering photos towards the photographer. That was the moment the wind picked up, and I mean PICKED UP! It was an instant ice cream headache when we were facing into the wind and it was hard to see because the snow was getting blown around. It was well worth braving the elements, as the lighting was fantastic and the wind made for some wonderful snow effects.


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